PP/GC/LE/34 Letter from Sir G.C.Lewis to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, on the retirement and replacement of the deputy chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, 14 September 1855
Letter from Sir George Cornewall Lewis, [second Baronet, Chancellor of the Exchequer], Harpton [Court, Radnorshire, Wales], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: John Wood, the chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, was severely ill during the summer; his life was in danger for some weeks. Lewis saw him a short time ago, prior to leaving London. Wood informed Lewis that although he hoped to retain office and to return to work in a month or two, for the present he needs to go to the seaside. The deputy chairman, Thornton is elderly and has been absent five or six months that year due to ill health. "At his best, moreover, he is not very efficient." The other members [of the Board] are Stevenson, "whose chief title to fame rests on his boots", Herries' son, and Alfred Montgomery. "The latter was appointed to please Brougham and Lyndhurst, in consequence of a request of Lord Wellesley. There is likewise Pressly, who is the most efficient man at the Board, after John Wood." The state of the Board renders changes necessary. Lewis has suggested that Thornton tender his resignation. This Thornton was willing to do provided his superannuation could be settled satisfactorily. This has been done. The office of deputy chairman is vacant. There is no doubt that Pressly is the best man at the Board. He is the proper person for the office. "It is a promotion to which he is justly entitled, and by which the public would benefit." Thornton's salary was 2,000 pounds a year. It is doubtful whether Pressly's salary needs to be raised to this sum immediately. If Palmerston has no objection, Pressly should at once be raised to the post of deputy chairman. The question of salary will be settled when Lewis comes to London. If Palmerston has any doubts about the change he should speak to Charles Wood. Wood is well acquainted with the constitution of the Board. "Pressly's promotion would make a vacancy among the junior commissioners, whose salary is either 1,200 pounds or 1,000 pounds a year. This Board has the superintendance of the excise, stamps, and property tax, altogether an enormous revenue, and it is highly desirable that an efficient and experienced man should be selected. John Wood wishes for the appointment of Henry, one of the police magistrates, of whom he speaks highly." Lewis recommends Sir John Walsham, one of the poor law inspectors, with whom he is acquainted. He has great confidence in Walsham's efficiency. Walsham has held his present office for twenty years and "has given much satisfaction". Bouverie can provide details of Walsham's "official character". The poor law inspectorships are worth 1,000 pounds a year. The appointment of either Henry or Walsham would release an office of near equal value to a junior commissioner of the Inland Revenue. Stephenson, of the Treasury, would also be very suitable for the appointment. He would be, however, a great loss at the Treasury and might not accept the position. Lewis has received a letter from the Governor of the Bank [of England] stating that the Court of Directors have decided to raise their rate of discount to four and a half per cent. "He anticipates a continuous drain of bullion. We must try if we can diminish the shipments of gold to the East. I hear that all our own money operations are going on smoothly, that we shall only require a small advance of deficiency bills from the Bank, and that the balance at the end of the quarter (10 October) will probably amount to six millions and a half pounds." It is not possible to give Lord Harrowby an answer other than that given by Palmerston. "Perhaps the proposition may come forward again in a more manageable form." 14 Sep 1855 [Postscript] The appointment of deputy chairman of Inland Revenue can be made by Treasury letter. The appointment of junior commissioner is made by the issue of a new patent; this is not pressing but the sooner the Treasury letter can be sent the better. 14 Sep 1855 Enclosed are: (i) a letter from Charles Pressly, Inland Revenue, London, to Sir George Cornewall Lewis, [second Baronet, Chancellor of the Exchequer]: he addresses Lewis on the subject of the recent retirement of Mr Thornton from the deputy chairmanship of the Inland Revenue Board. Pressly has been more then thirty seven years in public service. During the whole of this period he has devoted himself to the public duty. Since he has had a seat on the Board he has undertaken duties which should have devolved on the deputy chairman. "On the removal of the Income Tax Act in 1845, the late Sir Robert Peel was pleased to state in the House of Commons that the thanks of the country were due to me for the judicious way in which that act had been carried out, and after his retirement from office, I received a letter from him acknowledging the assistance I had rendered to him during the time he was First Minister." Pressly can with confidence refer Lewis to previous Chancellors for information on the assistance has provided on financial matters. He hopes that he will not be thought presumptuous for soliciting Mr Thornton's post. He knows that Mr John Wood and his colleagues at the Board are agreeable to such an arrangement. 12 Sep 1855 (ii) Letter from Charles John Herries, Board of Inland Revenue, London, to Sir George Cornewall Lewis: the office of deputy chairman of the Inland Revenue Board is vacant following the retirement of Mr Thornton. He understands that it is usual on these occasions for members of the Board who believe themselves qualified for a post to submit their names to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. "It might be infered that those who omitted to do so did not aspire to a higher station than that of a junior commissioner." Under ordinary circumstances, Herries would have stated his hope that his attention to the business as a Commissioner of Excise and at the Board were qualification for the duties of deputy chairman. "But in the present instance I willingly admit that Mr Pressly's eminent public service and great experience designate him as the fittest sucessor to Mr Thornton; and I feel that I may, without discredit, decline any competition with him for the vacant chair." He felt that he should give this explanation rather than appearing indifferent to the honour or responsibility of higher office. 12 Sep 1855
Six papers
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John Wood, chairman of the Board of the Inland Revenue
Mr Thornton, formerly deputy chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue
Mr Stevenson, inland revenue commissioner
Charles John Herries, inland revenue commissioner
John Charles Herries
Alfred Montgomery (called Arthur in the MS), inland revenue commissioner, formerly secretary of Richard Wellesley, first Marquis Wellesley, deceased
Henry Peter Brougham, first Baron Brougham and Vaux
John Singleton Copley, first Baron Lyndhurst
Charles Pressly, inland revenue commissioner
Sir Charles Wood, third Baronet, First Lord of the Admiralty
Thomas Henry, police magistrate
Sir John Walsham, poor law inspector
Edward Pleydell Bouverie, President of the Poor Law Board
Dudley Ryder, second Earl of Harrowby, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Sir Robert Peel, second Baronet, deceased, formerly Prime Minister
Sir Robert Peel, second Baronet, Prime Minister; Charles Pressly; Income Tax Act
Thomas Mattias Weguelin, Governor of the Bank of England
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